Shifting Focus from Architecture to Heritage: Stories of Three Australian Women Architects

Kwabi, Cyndelle

Ngā Pūtahitanga / Crossings: A Joint Conference of SAHANZ and the Australasian UHPH Group

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This paper considers the stories (oral histories) of three Queensland women architects: Fiona Gardiner, Helen Wilson and Ruth Woods. Studying architecture in the 1970s and working in architecture from 1980 to the present, each story reveals new insights into the experiences of women architects in Queensland at a time when women were achieving parity in architectural education and greater representation within the profession. A focus of the paper will be the move made by each to the new and emerging discipline of heritage and conservation in Queensland in the 1980 and 1990s. Revealing new histories of the heritage movement in Queensland, it will be argued that the value of their stories also lies in the “benefits” they felt heritage work offered women architects practising in Queensland. These include the chance to establish sole practices (together with the flexibility this offered) and the opportunity to escape the traditional hierarchies of mainstream (private) practice.